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Welcome to the Time Out of Mind listening guide. First, pat yourself on the back. You dug way past the easy self-righteousness of 64’s Times They Are a-Changin’ and didn’t stop at the travelogues of 75’s Desire. You even shrugged your discriminating shoulders at 89’s Dylan and the Dead, the album that had your friends thinking they were scraping the bottom of the croaky Dylan barrel.
Congratulations. You’ve made it to 97’s Time out of Mind. You are committed to the Art. You are an Aficionado of Despair. You are a True Listener. Now, dim the lights, pull the curtains, and light some candles. Nothing too festive. Something earthy. Maybe an almond coconut or a camphor. Then, pour yourself a whiskey, preferably bourbon. Neat, no rocks (whiskey stones acceptable). Put on those headphones. Take a deep cleansing breath. Lean Back. No, not there. In that severe looking shaker number in the corner. That’s right. Press Play.
1. Love Sick
“I’m walking/ Through streets that are dead.”
Alright. You know from those first pounds of organ that what we have here is a funeral for the heart, and you’re the guest of honour. He’s going to take it from your chest, all pink and meek and soft, and bury it in his garden where he grows organic artichokes.
2. Dirt Road Blues
“Gon’ walk down that dirt road until my eyes begin to bleed.”
Here Dylan lures you into a false sense of security. That guitar is wailing all whimsical and the drums are pumping away like they have nowhere to go and all the time in the world to get there. It’s right carnivalesque. What, do you think you’re at a party? Maybe with some friendly carnies, eating a sugar-frosted churro? You’re not at a party. You’re walking down a dirt road. Your feet are raw and blistered. Your eyes are bleeding. No one will give you a ride. Ever. For eternity.
3. Standing in the Doorway Crying
“I don’t know if I saw you/ If I would kiss you or kill you/ It probably wouldn’t matter to you anyhow.”
Dylan already has your heart under topsoil, but what about your memories? Remember your exes? That one who got away? Man you guys had some good times. Really, now that you think about it, that was the last time you felt truly alive. When you were with him/her. Everything has been kind of gray and lifeless since. Go on Facebook. Stalk. Cry.
4. Million Miles
“Well, I don’t dare close my eyes/ and I don’t dare wink/ Maybe in the next life/ I’ll be able to hear myself think.”
Contemplate the amount of space between you and every other soul on the planet. Consider how many people would notice, truly notice, if you were kidnapped into a human trafficking ring. Calculate how many more footsteps you will take until you die. Approximately.
Consider that every session musician who touched Time out of Mind died alone and impoverished. Of horrible diseases.
5. Trying to Get to Heaven
“You think you’ve lost everything/ To find out you can lose a little more.”
Write your last will and testament. And let’s be honest. The whole heaven thing is made up, right? You are going into the dirt. Done and done.
Rewrite your will. Donate all your earthly possessions to the American Atheist Society.
6. ’Til I Fell in Love with You
“Well, junk’s pilin’ up/ Takin’ up space/ My eyes feel like/ They’ve fallen off my face.”
Cold sweats are normal when listening to an album of this calibre. It just means you’re committed. Your shirt is soaked in liquid panic, but hey, that guitar treble is pretty sick right? Here’s a good moment to stretch. Fingertips toward the ceiling, then down to your heart centre. Namaste.
Ok, that was a test and boy did you fail hard. Dylan thinks yoga is a refuge for narcissists and dilettantes. If you were truly immersed in the Time Out of Mind experience you would not be capable of muscle movement by now. We call it catatonic empathy.
7. Not Dark Yet
“There’s not even room enough/ To be anywhere/ It’s not dark yet/ but it’s getting there.”
Does this room look smaller than it was before? I mean the walls… they look a little closer, yeah?
Google Belgium’s Euthanasia laws. Do they only apply to Belgian citizens? How hard is it to get Belgian citizenship? Would they let you listen to Time Out of Mind as you go?
8. Cold Irons Bound
“It’s such a sad thing to see beauty decay.”
That reverb guitar echoes in your skull. That bass line drops in like a ton of bricks. The drums run through your skull like a train. Maybe this is the turn around. Maybe this is the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe this will pump blood back into your sagging veins and lift your drool-covered chin off your sunken chest.
Psych! Give yourself a paper cut and feel the burn of your poor choices. Don’t blow on it.
9. Make You Feel My Love
“I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue/ I’d go crawling’ down the avenue.”
Aaah, a love song. Maybe there is hope after all. Life is stormy and regretful, but through it all is the certainty of deep, patient, abiding love!
Pick the record sleeve up to look gratefully into the eyes of the man who brought you back from the abyss. Something is wrong with his face. It’s kind of…blurry. Isn’t it? Like some cosmic eraser is rubbing away at his existence. Like he never was. Soon it will be like you never were. Sooner than you think. Is that some kind of wraith-like Santa Claus in the background? Drink more whiskey.
10. Can’t Wait
“I’d like to think I could control myself, but it isn’t true/ That’s how it is when things disintegrate.”
You’re a little drunk by now. That’s ok because you’re committed. You’re a True Listener.
Revelation: The album is called Time out of Mind. As in…TIME SPENT OUTSIDE YOUR MIND.
What’s that sound? Was that a blurry-faced Bob Dylan outside your window? Knock knock knocking on your windowpane with Yorick’s skull? Lock the doors. Drink more whiskey.
“Insanity is smashing up against my soul.”
These white padded walls really do wonders for acoustics. Finish album. Repeat. No more whiskey.
Stay tuned for our next instalment: Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart.